Send to

Choose Destination
Knee. 2008 Jun;15(3):180-6. doi: 10.1016/j.knee.2008.01.009. Epub 2008 Mar 4.

Frontal plane leg alignment and muscular activity during maximum eccentric contractions in individuals with and without patellofemoral pain syndrome.

Author information

Institute of Sports Science, Leopold-Franzens University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria.



The role of frontal plane tibiofemoral alignment in subjects with patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) is controversial and rarely discussed in the literature. As well, little research has been done on the effects of the hamstrings muscles on PFPS. The aim of the current study was to determine whether, in individuals with PFPS, frontal plane tibiofemoral alignment or muscular activity of the index knee's crossing muscles is altered during maximum eccentric leg press exercise.


This cross-sectional study involved 19 patients with PFPS and 19 control subjects who were matched according to gender, age, and physical activity. During eccentric leg press action, frontal plane tibiofemoral alignment was assessed with a motion analysis system based on skin markers. Simultaneously, surface-electromyography was used to assess the activity levels of the relevant knee crossing muscles. To assess the activity under functional conditions, a leg press with a footplate having variable stability was used for barefoot testing.


The PFPS subjects did not have significantly different frontal plane leg alignment compared to controls. On electromyography (EMG), PFPS patients had significantly lower levels of hamstring activity during eccentric leg exercise. The differences between the two groups (%; absolute differences normalized EMG) ranged from 20% (semitendinosus; stable footplate; p=0.017) to 21% (biceps femoris; unstable footplate; p=0.019) and 32% (semitendinosus; unstable footplate; p=0.002).


PFPS is not linked to altered frontal plane leg alignment during eccentric leg pressing. However, PFPS is associated with eccentric under-activation of the hamstrings, which may be a compensatory strategy that maintains patellofemoral joint pressure within bearable levels.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center